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  1. #1
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    BreathXChange Shield Mini-review

    I began winter biking this year and found that riding at decent speeds in cold weather causes discomfort and my sinuses to dry out - resulting in sinusitis and sore throat. Wrapping a scarf over my face sorta worked, but I wanted a better solution. After some forum searches and googling, I decided to get the BreathXChange shield for about US$30.

    The shield is a fairly simple affair with a fabric mask that contains a QXTEC heat exchanger, which looks somewhat like a mini car air-filter. The heat exchanger unit can be removed quite easily and the fabric mask and heat exchanger can be washed separately; the former can be thrown in a washing machine and the latter can be washed by hand. Wash instructions on the mask indicate that the whole unit can be machine washed, but I would be nervous putting the fragile-looking QXTEC module through a wash cycle. The mask is "one size fits most", and was a slightly tight fit on my XL face . I wore it on my ride in to work this AM. I was happy to find that the unit works as well as advertised. The heat from the exhaled breath is retained in the heat exchanger module and warms up the incoming air. I found that I was breathing in air that was at a temperature close to that of air on a warm spring/fall day. Considering that the ambient temperature was around 15F, this was a big improvement. Breathing through the exchanger adds some flow resistance, i.e., it makes breathing a little bit harder, but I did not find that it was a big problem. The heat exchanger module also retains some moisture according to the manufacturer's claim; this seems to work since the inhaled air seemed was not dry. One drawback was that, if I pulled up the mask to cover my nose, my sunglasses fogged up post haste. To avoid this, I let the top of the mask lie below my nose. This helped keep my sunglasses free of condensation. An additional point to note is that using the exchanger means that you will be breathing through your mouth exclusively rather than your nose. It was not a big problem for me, but YMMV. At the end of the ride, I was feeling quite good with no scratchy throat or dried out sinus issues.

    Overall, I am very happy with the BreathXChange shield and would highly recommend it for anyone who has discomfort due to breathing in very cold air during the winter season (note: I am not affiliated with the manufacturer and vendor in any way).

  2. #2
    Perineal Pressurized dobber's Avatar
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    I had a similar item but it was more of the baclava. While I found it did warm the air that I was breathing, I seemed to have difficulty sucking enough air in while really mashing along.

    Glad it works for you.
    This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

  3. #3
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    I use the Psolar unit. It's pretty much the same thing as the BreathXchange half mask. Same price too. It worked perfectly. I was suprised by the amount of moisture that it retained. When I got home last night I had to blow through it hard to flush out all the water droplets so it could dry easier. For $30, it's one of the best cold-weather values I've bought.

  4. #4
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    I think that it could be problematic if I were to mash really hard. The balaclava may also have been a bit more restrictive than the fask mask (conjecture). For commuting, the shield seems to work nicely.
    Quote Originally Posted by dobber
    I had a similar item but it was more of the baclava. While I found it did warm the air that I was breathing, I seemed to have difficulty sucking enough air in while really mashing along.

    Glad it works for you.

  5. #5
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    One q. How do you wash it? Do you separate the QXTEC unit and wash it by hand or throw the whole thing in the wash?

    I was debating whether I should go with the Psolar half mask or this shield. In the end, I decided on the latter since I did not need (want) something that will go up to my ears since I have a helmet shield that is fairly warm and wear a scarf around my neck.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jesse Smith
    I use the Psolar unit. It's pretty much the same thing as the BreathXchange half mask. Same price too. It worked perfectly. I was suprised by the amount of moisture that it retained. When I got home last night I had to blow through it hard to flush out all the water droplets so it could dry easier. For $30, it's one of the best cold-weather values I've bought.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Joe1946's Avatar
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    I use the Polar Wrap ST/Sport exchanger mask with a Giro Ravine snow sports helmet and Uvex Supersonic S goggles and they work great together. I had fogging problems with the goggles but today I put some shaving cream on the inside lens then wiped it off and that got rid of 90% of the fogging problem. The 10% is when I hit the hills or come to a stop but after getting up to speed again they clear up.
    http://www.polarwrap.com/how.htm

  7. #7
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    Sounds sort of gimmike to me. I can't see where it is needed. Any fleece covering over the mouth and nose suffices down to very cold temperatures. The air gets heated very quickly once it enters your mouth.
    Last edited by Portis; 12-18-05 at 10:03 AM.

  8. #8
    Burn-em Upus Icephaltus Gojohnnygo.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger
    Sounds sort of gimmike to me. I can't see where it is needed. Any fleece covering over the mouth and notice suffices down to very cold temperatures. The air gets heated very quickly once it enters your mouth.
    What he said.

    I have biked, downhill skied and Cross country in temps below zero and so have millions of other people for years. This is not needed.
    Sick BubbleGum

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    "This is not needed" for whom? I definitely find it helpful in reducing discomfort.To each his or her own, I guess.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gojohnnygo.
    What he said.

    I have biked, downhill skied and Cross country in temps below zero and so have millions of other people for years. This is not needed.

  10. #10
    Burn-em Upus Icephaltus Gojohnnygo.'s Avatar
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    I went over your post again, Then I though about Robert a person that works for me that has breathing problems. He always has a filter mask on when cleaning and I notice that he always wraps his face with a scarf when leaving on a cold day. He walks home. I will point out BreathXchange to him.

    If it works for you go for it.

    I apologize,

    Johnny
    Sick BubbleGum

  11. #11
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    No problems

    Cheers from frigid Ithaca!
    Quote Originally Posted by Gojohnnygo.
    I went over your post again, Then I though about Robert a person that works for me that has breathing problems. He always has a filter mask on when cleaning and I notice that he always wraps his face with a scarf when leaving on a cold day. He walks home. I will point out BreathXchange to him.

    If it works for you go for it.

    I apologize,

    Johnny

  12. #12
    winter is comming BenyBen's Avatar
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    There is also the fact that breathing in cold air makes your body spend more energy keeping warm, no?

    So conserving warmth from breathing sounds like a good idea.

  13. #13
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    I was thinking of picking up one of these (I only knew of the Psolar) since I have a bit of the cold-induced asthma. I would probably go with the balaclava variety since I use that now. Perhaps it would help.

    T

  14. #14
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    One thing to note that it does impede air flow though, in my case, not to a degree that causes discomfort. Just a heads up...
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomill
    I was thinking of picking up one of these (I only knew of the Psolar) since I have a bit of the cold-induced asthma. I would probably go with the balaclava variety since I use that now. Perhaps it would help.

    T
    Last edited by naane; 12-21-05 at 09:01 PM.

  15. #15
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    I was thinking of getting one of these breathing units. I found that when the temp. was
    -10F I had to slow down so I could lower my breathing rate. Thanks for your review, most helpful. BTW: A big hello from Holland Patent, NY.

  16. #16
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    -10F!! I chicken out when the mercury hits 15-10F or so
    Quote Originally Posted by mexredknee
    I was thinking of getting one of these breathing units. I found that when the temp. was
    -10F I had to slow down so I could lower my breathing rate. Thanks for your review, most helpful. BTW: A big hello from Holland Patent, NY.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by naane
    -10F!! I chicken out when the mercury hits 15-10F or so
    I chickened out at first but the next day I decided to take a small run just up/down the street.
    Now with more layers I haven't reached a too-low-to-ride temp yet.

  18. #18
    BXC
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    Hi Everyone. I am the founder of AllergyZone which manufactures the BreathXchange masks. We appreciate the postive comments from those who have tried it. I am a physician who specializes in the treatment of asthma and have worked with an engineer in developing the masks and shield. Here are a few FAQs that may address some of the comments in this thread:
    How does the BreathXchange Mask work?
    The BreathXchange mask contains a lightweight thermal conversion module that captures the vapor that is typically expended in the normal course of breathing. The module actually captures body heat and moisture when you exhale. As you inhale the cold air, the module warms the air returning heat and moisture into your body. This advanced technology allows you to constantly breath in fresh warm air while trapping moisture to keep your mask drier. The BreathXchange masks keeps your core body temperature warm when you're facing extremely frigid outdoor elements. Since your lungs represent the largest surface area to the cold air, the use of the heat exchanger dramtically reduces overall heat loss and keps your whole body warmer.
    I've seen other cold weather and "heat exchange" face masks. Why is BreathXchange better?
    Personal Respiratory Heat Exchange (PHRE) and "artificial nose" devices have been around since the first patent in 1898. New technology has has allowed major improvements. BreathXchange masks utilizes a simple lightweight Personal Resiratory Heat Exchange module, and offers the following advantages:
    Breathability. The BreathXchange mask has the lowest resistance to breathing, of any masks. We have published medical studies at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center showing its effectiveness in stopping cold air effects on breathing during exercise. You are breathing in fresh air, not air that you have just breathed out into a fleece or fabric baclava or "warming" or "rebreathing" mask , nor are you dealing with high resistance to air flow like some of the older devices.
    Versatility. The BreathXchange masks are designed to be effective in many cold weather venues (like biking). When the temperature drops below freezing, the mask will warm the air you breathe to room temperature.
    Acoustics. Your friends can hear and understand you.
    Quality. Your BreathXchange mask is made of quality materials. The QXtec heat exchanger is made with the highest standards and is thoroughly tested. The entire assembly is durable and machine washable.
    How is the BreathXchange Mask cleaned?
    The entire mask and heat exchange module can be machine washed in cold water on the gentle cycle and line dried. The module can be washed hundreds of times without deterioration, or harm. The fabric mask can be machine washed in cold water and line dried. We recommend washing the fabric in cold water to increase the longevity of the fleece.
    Does the facemask get wet and gooey and icy?
    No. The module captures the water vapor and returns it to the air you breathe. The moisture management is handled by the heat exchanger - not the fleece. Breathing humidified air puts less stress on your body.http://www.breathxchange.com

  19. #19
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I have a PSolarX HX (helmet) balaclava. The HX is spandex on top rather than fleece. It's working well for me. At first I felt short of breath, because I'm not used to having my breathing restricted at all, but once I got used to it it was fine. I found that by angling the unit down, I'm able to keep them from steaming my glasses, most of the time. I made a vapor shield like what PSolar sells, and it works OK, but the carpet tape I hold it on with won't hold through a washing.

    I only wear it when the temps get down to about 15*F, I don't have any trouble with my throat in the 20's and above. It does work pretty well though. Gives me one less reason to bail on my commute.

  20. #20
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    I would like to point out that for me a balaclava works just fine down to about -5C (less than 32 F, dont ask me about the details, if you really wanted to know about temp 278 K would be quite adequate) and then my neoprene mask starts to feel really good. I don't know about y'all but cold air hurts my lungs and nose!!!

    R

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